Snorkeling in Thailand
Thailand snorkeling opportunities are endless, be it straight from the beach outside your hotel, or on a longer snorkel trip over a few days. The 'Land of Smiles' has been long recognised for it's gorgeous islands, picture perfect white sandy beaches, and rich surrounding waters, all combining to ensure that snorkeling Thailand is a truly epic experience. The southern half of the country is blessed with miles and miles of stunning coastline, from the party hotspots in the Gulf on the Eastern side, to the remote quieter laid back islands in the Andaman Sea on the west. The underwater life is abundant and varied, the weather almost always warm and sunny, and the food to die for. This creates a perfect concoction of elements making Thailand the perfect destination for any snorkel tour.
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Marine Life In Thailand
Snorkeling in Thailand will expose any visitor to the full range of tropical marine life. There are corals of all shapes and sizes in every snorkel site, with some particularly spectacular coral gardens featuring fans, table coral and many hard and soft species. They provide an excellent environment for the hundreds and thousands of reef fish inhabiting the surrounding waters. There truly is the full array of colours on show, showcased by the likes of Angelfish, Parrotfish, Surgeonfish, Anemone Fish, Snapper and Barracuda. The health of many of the reefs is due to their remoteness, especially when snorkeling in the Andaman Sea, but the extra effort needed to reach these areas will be well worth it.
Commonly snorkel tours will take visitors to sites featuring some of the giants of the underwater tropical world including majestic Manta Rays, sleek White and Black Tip Sharks, and the largest fish of them all - the Whale Shark. Each Thailand snorkel site is different, but visitors are consistently wowed by the magical waters and any tour here is sure to impress even the most seasoned of underwater addicts.
Best Snorkel Sites In Thailand
Snorkel sites in Thailand are so abundant that listing them all here would create an endless article! Probably the best snorkel sites in Thailand are located in the Andaman Sea, off the west coast of the country.
Surin Island offers some great opportunities for snorkeling, with the likes of Jenkin's Stingray, Sweetlips, and Bumphead Parrotfish being ever present. The area is commonly frequented by Manta and Eagle Rays, which are easily seen due to the great visibility.
Koh Bon is a site famous for the high chance of seeing graceful Manta Rays, and certainly a place worth paying a visit on any snorkeling trip in Thailand. Here visitors often have the chance to swim with the friendly giant that is the Whale Shark, and possibly view Zebra Sharks. There's an abundance of healthy reef fish in each snorkel site at Koh Bon, including Barracuda, Trevally, and Batfish.
Richelieu Rock is well known in the scuba diving world, but also makes a word class snorkeling spot. It's renowned for Whale Sharks which come here regularly. They are a truly awesome spectacle, the largest fish on the planet, and completely harmless - ensure your camera is fully charged! Snorkelers are also likely to come across Seahorses in the shallows, and hovering Cuttlefish.
Best Time to Snorkel in Thailand
Thailand has a great climate, perfect for water based activities. Snorkeling is possible all year round, with water temperatures normally upwards of 28 degrees Celsius, and similar air temperatures (although commonly it's warmer than this). Probably the best time to snorkel on the Andaman side is from October to April, and conversely the peak periods in the Gulf are from May to September.
How Do I Get To Thailand?
Often the best way to explore the remotest, and thus the quietest and most undisturbed snorkel spots in Thailand, is by boarding a liveaboard tour from one of the south's main ports. These commonly leave from the popular tourist destination of Phuket, or one of the islands close by. Other common departure points include Ranong and Khao Lak further north.
Thailand is extremely well connected to the rest of the world, with major international airports at both Bangkok and Phuket. It's often easiest to fly directly into Phuket, from where snorkel tours often start, or a transfer to Khao Lak can be easily arranged. It's also possible to fly domestically to Ranong, if this is where your itinerary commences.
In the Gulf on the Eastern side, there are regular domestic flights to the popular holiday island of Koh Samui. The other possibility is a lengthy train or bus ride from Bangkok.